Today we are going to take the long way home. If you are in a hurry this never makes sense. But if you have given yourself the time and understand the benefit of the journey then is makes all the sense in the world. In the context of interpreting scripture and understanding the meaning intended by the writer or speaker the long way home is always the best way.
There have always been differing viewpoints as to the exact meaning and significance of the word meek in the context for which Jesus used it in His teaching on the mount. Some are certain it means a godly patience, or humble resignation; other commentaries have defined “meek” as righteous forms of unselfishness, or self-abnegation (denial). There are other interpretations of this passage that understand the meaning of meek in this context as spiritual gentleness or passivity, bearing afflictions and difficulty quietly or with resignation. None of these seem wrong or off the rails yet none truly seem to capture the depth or full intent of Jesus as He spoke in what Matthew would later recall and record as the third Beatitude. There is an order that is missing in these other definitions that we should seek to capture, understand, and receive.
The definition for “meekness” is found in the progression of the overall or comprehensive meaning of Jesus teaching that day. For anyone interested this is called “the syntactical structure” of the passage. This simply means that the definition is better understood as part of the overall rather than simply digging down on simply one word - to find what has become one disconnected and narrow meaning. This is not to say that Jesus didn’t mean what He said or mean what He said. But it does point us to the fact that His meaning of the word “meek’ is best understood as part of His complete Sermon on the Mount teaching that was fully directed towards the attitude and character of a submitted and surrendered disciple (all-in follower). Long way through right? Yes it is, but worth the time and effort to be able to understand that Jesus was defining the word “meek” that day as “humility”.
"Blessed are the meek," or the humble, the lowly. We can follow the word “meek” through other passages that to see it this is true. The first time the word meek occurs in scripture is in
Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman. And they said, “Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?” And the LORD heard it. Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth.
In this passage the Spirit of God has pointed out a contrast between that attitude and character of Miriam and Aaron and their brother Moses. In these verses Miriam and Aaron are speaking out against Moses: "Has the Lord actually spoken only through Moses? Or, has He not also spoken through us?"
The tone and context of their language betrays the pride and arrogance of their hearts, and their self-seeking appetite for personal recognition and honor. The antithesis or contrast of their attitude is clearly seen, "Now the man Moses was very meek." This means that Moses was motivated by a spirit and attitude that was opposite of the spirit and attitude of his brother and sister. Moses was humble, lowly, and self-renouncing - he was not motivated by building his “brand” or the “celebrity” of being the one God had chosen to speak and lead His people through. This is echoed in the instruction of the writer of Hebrews.
By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible.
Clearly, Moses had turned his back on worldly honors and earthly riches, deliberately choosing the life of a lowly pilgrim rather than that of an entitled King’s kid. He chose the wilderness in preference to the palace. The humbleness of Moses is seen again when Jehovah first appeared to him in Midian and instructs him to lead His people out of Egypt. "Who am I," he said, "that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth “the children of Israel out of Egypt?" (Exodus 3:11). The humility and lowliness in these words breathe out the meaning and life of Jesus words - Blessed are the meek! Yes, Moses was very meek. Jesus said, blessed are the meek! There are many other Scripture texts that help us understand this and also seem to re-direct us to the definition we determined to pursue. Here are just a few more.
The meek will He guide in judgment: and the meek will He teach His way.
What can this mean but that the humble and lowly-hearted are the ones whom God promises to counsel and instruct?
Behold, your King comes to you, meek, and sitting on the back of a donkey.
This is meekness revealed in the lowliness of the incarnation - God coming to us humble and serving.
Brothers and sisters, if a man be overtaken in a fault, you who are spiritual (display the gift of love), restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering yourself, unless you also are tempted.
It becomes obvious that this means a genuine spirit of humility is required in him or her who desires to be used of God in restoring a struggling and sinning brother. The point is this. We need to learn the attitude and character of Christ the Messiah, who was "meek and lowly in heart." The latter term lowly explains the first meek. Interesting that they are linked together again in Ephesians 4:2, where the order is reversed "lowliness and meekness."
The order is deliberately reversed from that in Matthew 11:29. This connects the two words and makes them us that they are synonymous one with the other.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
So the biblical etymology and theology of the word MEEK reveals a heart, attitude and character of humility and lowliness. The context also reveals the worthy endeavor to determine the practical practice and application of MEEK.
How does the Holy Spirit bring meekness to life and fruition in us?
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